Resolution: No More Maligning Merlot

I am also not generally a huge Merlot fan but as of late have come to enjoy them for their fruit-forward nature. Perhaps this article by my friend Jeff, the Drunken Cyclist, will bring you over to the dark (red) side.

the drunken cyclist

For years, I would not touch Merlot, not because a certain movie told me that it was rather un-cool, but rather because I found most Merlots rather, well, blah. For me, it was the quintessential “tweener” variety: it was neither as structured and rich as Cabernet Sauvignon, as fruity and fun as Zinfandel, or as ethereal and complex as Pinot Noir. So I really did not see the point. Then, this past Spring, I was visiting a winegrower friend in Dry Creek Valley (he grows Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), who, up to that point, had not made any wine of his own from his vineyard—he would sell off all the fruit. Well, during the 2014 vintage, he decided to take a half a ton of the fruit and asked Erik Miller of Kokomo Winery to make him a barrel of wine.

It was a Merlot.

I cringed.

I immediately wondered why…

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Pinots for Princes

For those of you interested in the Pinots for Princes and Princesses, like myself, try these wines!

the drunken cyclist

Brace yourself. I am about to make a bold statement:

I like Pinot.

Yeah, I know, it blows your hair back a bit.

As I have written countless times on this blog, my first real love in wine was and is champagne, but the bubbles only account for about 10% of my cellar (I am only counting champagne here, not other sparklers). After I got my nose tickled in Champers, it was not much of a stretch to move on to Pinot Noir. After all, Pinot is one of the three main grape varieties in champagne and I find the more Pinot there is in the bubbly blend, the more I like the wine.

The problem with Pinot is that it is tough to find a good one under $30. A couple of months ago though, I wrote an article (Pinot for Paupers) that tried to do just…

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Drinking Now: Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc #NZSavvy

Wednesdays are known as #WineWednesday or #WW (hashtag WW) and are therefore the best days to hold what the wine industry calls Wine Chats or #winechat. These wine chats are held every Wednesday for an hour starting at 5:00 pm or 6:00pm PST/ 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm EST. Wine chats are meant to be educational and informative tools for not just wine bloggers but for those following them as a chance to learn more about wines within 1 hour though two-way communication between a winery/winemaker and hand-selected wine bloggers.

My first wine chat was through Protocol Wine Studio based in San Diego where we did a tasting of Argentinean wines. Following that I did another tasting for a series of Malbecs for Malbec World Day in April this year. Yesterday, I had the sincere pleasure of joining a Villa Maria New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wine chat under the #NZSavvy. The purpose of a hashtag is to make it easier to follow a conversation from start to finish and join in on the conversation whether you have the wine in front of you or not. I personally use a tool such as TweetDeck which automatically updates me on the #winechat stream as it happens. In order to remain a part of the conversation, you have to  make sure to include the all important # word that is being used specifically for that tasting. This way everyone on the stream can see you.

Make sure to check out the #winechat schedules for Protocol. There are also a few coming up in the upcoming weeks including one next week on Santa Barbara wines on Wednesday, June 25, just look for the #sbcwines or follow them on twitter @sbcwines.

Below you can see the chaos as it ensues…. glass of wine, wine notes, laptop and cell phone. All necessary elements of a #winechat.

 

The #NZSavvy #winechat begins!

The #NZSavvy #winechat begins!

Last night I tried two Sauvignon Blancs from Villa Maria, both of which were beautifully refreshing change to what I have been currently drinking. I currently live in the world of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris with a little Riesling and Chardonnay thrown in there from time to time. I welcomed the grassy, grapefruit and citrus palate like a refreshing wind on a summer day.

Honestly, it was really hot yesterday and I couldn’t have asked for a more refreshing drink. Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand holds a special place in my heart as it is such a clearly distinctive palate that no other Sauvignon Blanc that I’ve tasted tastes like.  To me, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has this fresh-cut green grass, almost asparagus nature to it, not in a bad way but in a delicate and refreshing way.

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Marlborough is located at the top of the South Island in New Zealand. With over 23,600 hectares of planted vines, it is the largest wine growing region of New Zealand and primarily known for its world-class Sauvignon Blanc.

Marlborough enjoys high sunshine hours and a temperate climate which allows for  a long slow, flavor-intensifying ripening period.  Warm days and cool nights help keep the acid in wines high. The soil type is noticeably stony, sandy loam top soil with deep layers of shingle, this allows for fast draining and therefore low fertility soils. The one thing you always want for vines is to have them suffer a bit, this creates the complexity that can not be achieved solely through winemaking. It is a combination of the land, the weather of each vintage and the winemaker’s hand that can make any wine truly unique.  In this case, the two below wines are highly recommended a true treat on a hot summer day. Enjoy!

2014 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc

It really sings in the glass, highly aromatic with fresh-cut green grass, lime, kiwi and ruby-red grapefruit with a long-lasting finish and crisp acidity. This is a special early release. At $14.99, it would pair beautifully with some oysters.

2013 Villa Maria Cellar Selection

With a bit more time in bottle and allowing the wine to warm up a little, the nose just jumps out at you with lychee, grapefruit, green grass. In the mouth, passion fruit attacks your palate with a clean crisp acidic finish of a lemon-lime-grapefruit sorbet. Really quite delightful. Retail on this is $19.99.

I keep wishing I had some nice seafood, like a pan-fried fish, oysters, scallops and a side of seasonal vegetables, to pair it with but a beautiful view from my new place full of boxes and my trusty French Bulldog, El Guapo, will have to suffice for now. He really wanted some!  Cheers!

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